Eyes in the Outback

This week I am in Darwin for a clinic.  I arrived to the most amazing torrential rain that reminded me of my childhood growing up in New Guinea.
 
This Darwin clinic was a little different to all the others. Usually I do a mail out to all my clients before I come up. This time I did some advance publicity in the form a radio interview and newspaper pieces.  It’s been wonderful to get such a huge response. In the past we have avoided doing any publicity, as we don’t like to draw attention to people who have artificial eyes. From the new web site however, it became apparent that there are a lot of people who just didn’t know where to head for help.
 
One thing that intrigued me was the size of irises up here. In Perth the average size would be 11mm. From Paul’s clinics in Bahrain he says the irises are an average 9.5mm. In Darwin they are bigger. From the six clients I made new eyes for, two had 12mm irises and two where at 12.5mm. In Perth we may get one in twenty eyes that has an iris that large. Is it just a coincidence? The Darwin population is itinerant so it could not be intrinsic to local genetics. Do you have any theories?
 
There is also a striking difference is the way in which people lose an eye. The majority of my clients in Darwin lost their eye through trauma. In Perth the prevalence is more through cancer and disease. I believe two things contribute to this. Firstly it is a younger population. As people get older they get less tolerant of the heat and move south to be closer to relatives. Secondly, people are less house bound. They get out and about camping, shooting, boating, and drinking.
 
The people up here tend to be a little more relaxed about having a false eye. I reckon it is because of the weather. Because of the humidity, no one wears a suit or tie and it is a rare woman who puts on makeup. Everything is a bit more relaxed and the public accept you as you are. This attracts a wide range of characters and makes it extraordinarily culturally diverse.  I can’t help but be drawn to the weekend markets at Parap, Nightcliff and Rapid Creek. The food, vegies, clothes and unusual knick-knacks overload my senses.
 
I run a clinic in Darwin twice a year in February and August. I always look forward to the trip. Not only is it fun, it is also very rewarding to be able to help people living in remote locations.

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